Domestic violence

The government definition of domestic violence and abuse is as follows: 

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.​

This can include, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour is described as a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

The government definition, which is not a legal definition, also includes so called 'honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

Please note that family members are defined as mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, and grandparents, whether directly related, in-laws or step family. 

"Victim" is the term used in recognition of the fact that a victim of domestic abuse is a victim of crime. 

If you are someone experiencing domestic abuse or violence, know someone who is, or a professional needing help to access information or support for a victim of domestic abuse; please follow the related information below to find out what is available to you.

If you are suffering from or are aware of someone experiencing domestic abuse and is in immediate danger please call 999. To report any non-emergency incidents please call 101.

If you are a professional looking to make a referral for high risk domestic abuse please complete our online form.

Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) referral form.

The MARAC is a multi-agency meeting for professionals, where domestic abuse victims who have been identified as high risk of serious harm or homicide are referred to. The MARAC is attended by representatives from a range of agencies including police, child protection, housing, Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs), probation, mental health, North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), substance misuse and many other specialists from the statutory and voluntary sectors.

The aims of MARAC: 

  • To share relevant information to increase the safety, health and well being of victims, other adults who may be affected and their children
  • Make links with other public protection arrangements in relation to children, perpetrators and vulnerable adults 
  • Determine whether the perpetrator poses a significant risk to any particular individual or to the general community
  • Jointly construct and implement a risk management plan that provides professional support to all those at risk and reduces the risk of harm
  • Reduce repeat victimisation
  • Improve agency accountability
  • Improve support for and the safety of staff involved in high risk domestic abuse cases. 

You can find local support to suit your circumstances through the Domestic Abuse Champions Network.

We all have a duty of care to report any children or vulnerable adults who may be affected by domestic abuse. Referrals should be completed to the following services if there is a safeguarding concern:

Adult social care

Children's social care

If you are in an emergency always call 999. 

If you are a woman in need of emergency refuge please call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. The free 24 hour service is run in partnership by Women's Aid and Refuge. 

If you are a man experiencing domestic abuse you can call the Men's Advice Line free on 0808 801 0327 or Mankind on 01823 334 244.

For LGBT+ people The London LGBT Domestic Abuse Partnership (DAP) is open to all LGBT+ persons living or working in London who are experiencing domestic violence or abuse. For more information call 0300 999 5428 or 0800 999 5428.

Other support services

Havering Women's Aid - 01708 728759

Havering Women's Aid are an organisation based in Havering that offer floating support to both men or women affected by domestic abuse and violence. Support is available to people aged 16 plus who are resident of Havering. Support includes safety planning with agreed outcomes, specialist information and advice, access to their one-to-one counselling, and group courses such as the Freedom Programme.

Victim Support Pan London IDVA Service - 0808 168 9291

Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVA) at Victim Support offer support to men and women with advice, information, and advocacy. They also help with legal remedies, assistance with housing or finding refuge, and onward referral to other services. The PAN London IDVA’s are based at Romford Police Station and will be supporting the Borough Command Unit (BCU) with victim’s coming through the Criminal Justice System.

MENDAS - 01708 397 974

Men’s Domestic Abuse Service (MENDAS) are based in Havering and offer support to male victims of domestic abuse and violence. They assist by providing emotional and practical help, advice and information, advocacy support, help to access specialist support, and one-to-one counselling.

East London Rape Crisis Centre (Nia) -  020 7683 1210 / 0800 160 1036

If you are a victim of rape, sexual abuse or violence contact the East London Rape Crisis Centre for free, confidential advice, and support. They offer specialist help to women and girls over the age of 14, which includes emotional and practical support, one-to-one counselling, group support, and advocacy.

Solace Women’s Aid - 0808 802 5565

Solace Women’s Aid provide specialist domestic abuse and sexual abuse counselling services to women and children, which includes an assessment. They also provide Women’s Support Groups for women and girls from 16 years old, who are survivors of or are experiencing domestic abuse or sexual violence.

Ashiana Network - 020 8539 0427

Ashiana Network are a specialist organisation supporting Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) women, particularly from South Asian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern background who are experiencing domestic abuse and violence. They offer one-to-one counselling, education and prevention, support groups, advocacy, specialist and immigration advice, as well as refuge.

Women’s Trust - 020 7034 0303 

Woman’s Trust is a specialist mental health charity, empowering women to overcome the psychological effects of domestic abuse, providing free counselling and therapy, including crisis counselling for those requiring immediate support. They also offer self-development workshops and support groups to build relationships and social circles.

GALOP - 020 7704 2040

LGBT+ victims of domestic abuse and violence can contact GALOP who provide confidential advice and support to members of the LGBT+ community who have experienced homophobia/biphobia/transphobia, sexual violence, or domestic abuse.

Deaf Hope - 020 8772 3241

Deaf victims of domestic abuse can receive advocacy and outreach support via an Independent domestic violence advocate who works with high risk clients. Outreach workers can meet victims in the community to offer on-going support. They also offer Survivor workshops as well as a Children and Families worker.

Survivors UK - 020 3598 3898

A sexual violence support service for those identifying as male, transgender, non-binary, has identified as male in the past, or anyone who feels that the service is a right fit for them.

Respect - 0808 802 4040 

A confidential helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse and violence looking for help to stop. They help male and female perpetrators, in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. They also support partners or ex-partners of perpetrators, as well as concerned friends and family members.

Women in Prison - 0800 953 0125

Is a national charity providing specialist support services for women by women, offering advice and support to women affected by the criminal justice system.

Karma Nirvana – 0800 5999247

National Helpline that provides advise and information to victims of honour based violence and forced marriage.

London Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

The London Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Consortium is made up of 29 organisations working in partnership to deliver comprehensive, cost effective, high quality services to all communities across London. This innovative partnership strengthens referral pathways across organisations and identifies trends and emerging needs.

You can also find local support to suit your circumstances through the Domestic Abuse Champions Network.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS, also known as Clare's Law is intended to provide information that could protect someone from being a victim of domestic abuse. The initiative is named after the late Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009. Clare’s Law gives any member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them. Under Clare’s Law, a member of the public can also make enquiries into the partner of a close friend or family member.

A disclosure under this Scheme is the sharing of specific information about an individual with the person making the application or a third person, for the purposes of protecting a potential victim from domestic abuse and violence. The scheme allows the police to disclose information about a partner's previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. Clare’s Law has two functions:
  • 'Right to ask' - this enables someone to ask the police about a partner's previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. A precedent for such a scheme exists with the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme
  • 'Right to know' - police can proactively disclose information in prescribed circumstances. 

You can apply for Clare's law by attending your local police station in person, where a police officer or member of police staff will take the details of what prompted the enquiry and talk through the next steps. Any disclosure will be made in person and identification will be required. None of the disclosure is made in writing and documents are not provided. 

You can also apply for Clare's law online.

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